Many people think of spring break as college students descending upon a beach town for sun and fun, but for a group of DeKalb Boy Scouts, spring break meant a hurricane-ravaged island along the gulf coast of Texas.
Boy Scout Troop 33, sponsored by First Lutheran Church in DeKalb, sent 12 Scouts and adults 1,300 miles to work on hurricane relief efforts at Galveston Island in Texas. More than six months ago, Hurricane Ike struck the southern Texas coast, rendering many homes in Galveston uninhabitable.
This was Troop 33’s second mission trip to Galveston. They first worked there during the Christmas holiday break and returned again to work during their spring break.
Scouts ranged in age from 13-17. Sleeping overnight at a Galveston church, they worked under the direction of the Cavalry for Christ (C4C) relief agency. They were joined by a group of 17 college students from Colorado State University in Pueblo, Colo. Working together, the Scouts and college students tackled a variety of challenging projects.
Scouts assisted with kitchen duties. Each day meals were prepared for volunteers and afterward, Scouts washed dishes and engaged in a variety of clean-up operations.
Troop 33 assisted with gutting part of the second floor of a home. This involved tearing out flooring and removing bathroom fixtures. Many homes in Galveston remain in need of repair.
A historic three-story building in downtown Galveston built in 1917 was flooded with 14 feet of water from Hurricane Ike’s storm surge. More flooding came from above through a wind-damaged roof.
Scouts removed large amounts of debris from the second-floor interior. They dumped bucket loads of debris through a chute into a trailer parked in an alley below. They also removed a large area of debris from along a sidewalk.
Jones Park suffered extensive flooding. Benches were water damaged with tremendous damage to trees, grounds and equipment. Scouts replaced two benches and sanded park equipment in preparation for painting.
Debris removal, clean up
One home had been flooded with 21 feet of water. A large amount of debris had remained wet or damp on the property for more than six months. Scouts carefully removed debris, taking countless wheelbarrow loads to the street, where the city of Galveston could later pick it up. Scouts also worked at a second property where more debris and brush was removed.
At a third location, a garage was cleaned out and a sanitizing solution was sprayed onto the floor.
Air conditioning repair
Adults cleaned an older air conditioning unit at a church, removing and replacing a faulty electric motor drive. A new motor was purchased and donated using Troop 33 funds.
Back in December, Scouts had stripped the floors and walls in the final gutting process of a flood-damaged home. Since December, the home received new windows and siding, and the electrical system had been completely rewired. Scouts returned to install drywall in the home and do some of the initial taping of the walls. The homeowner met the Scouts and talked with them last December. She broke into tears upon seeing them return. The Scouts felt working on her home was the greatest project they did in Galveston. It spanned both their Christmas holiday and spring break mission trips. She felt the Scouts had played a major role in rehabilitating her home. Meeting her and working on her home took the enormous devastation of a major hurricane and brought it down to a very human scale.
They met and talked with hurricane victims throughout their stay, some who had lost everything. Day after day, crews of Scouts and college students worked together to meet the challenges brought before them.
Each new day brought them many long hours of hot, dirty work, but they always found the energy and determination to complete their tasks.
Scouts wore filtration masks while working in mold-infested areas. Special trailers provided showers.
At the end of the day, after all their work was done, they enjoyed time together through meetings, movies, games and even a short time at the beach.